Had just tenvoters in the South Wales seat of Vale of Glamorgan supported Labour instead of the Tories at the1992 general election, Walter Sweeney would never have become an MP.
As it was, he wasto spend five eventful years in the Commons during which he became famousprimarily for one thing - having the slimmest majority in the country.
There wasalways something rather heroic about Sweeney. Rather than nurse his fragile majority of 19 by appealing to the"centre ground," he immediately headed off in the direction of hisparty's eurosceptic hard right.
No doubt he knewwhat electoral fate awaited him and decided to make the most of his unexpected spellin the political limelight.
Despite hiseuroscepticism, Sweeney was not in fact one of the original Maastricht rebels, andtherein lies a possibly apocryphal tale that subsequently lost nothing in thetelling up and down the bars of Westminster.
Some say hewas prevented from rebelling after locking himself in the loo during thedivision, others that burly whip David Lightbown held his 18st frame againstthe toilet door to prevent him leaving.
As the generalelection loomed, Sweeney became more outspoken, calling for Chancellor KenClarke to be sacked and replaced by John Redwood, who had stood against JohnMajor for the party leadership in 1995.
And in a finalflourish, he introduced a Private Members’ Bill which would have given anabsolute legal defence to any householder who found themselves having to shoota burglar.
So what didSweeney do when the curtain finally fell?Rather than attempt a comeback as Derek Conway, Andrew Mitchell andothers eventually did, he lowered his expectations and downsized.
A lawyer byprofession, he established a small country solicitors’ practice, Yorkshire Law,which operates out of an office in the picturesque main street of North Cave, near Hull.
Now 58, hispolitical involvement these days is limited to serving as a parent governor ofNorth Cave Church of England Primary School, and his membership of the FreedomAssociation, which continues to champion his 1996 Private Members' Bill.
Sweeney’s lastlegacy to the Conservative Party was to “discover” Tracey Crouch.A former Hull universitystudent who became his researcher from 1996-97, she is now the party’s prospectiveparliamentary candidate for Chatham and Aylesford.